Thursday, August 28, 2014

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

The Sacrament of Holy Qurbana:More than a Ritual

Isaiah 24:4-12


John C. Thomas
St. Thomas, MTC, NY
Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt; therefore the inhabitants of the earth dwindled, and few people are left. v. 9

Why do you take Holy Communion?  Seems like an odd question, but it may be one of the most important you are ever asked.  For many of us Christians, we take Qurbana as a habit or ritual.  Maybe our parents make us, maybe because our friends take it, maybe we are so used to taking it every time we go to church - that it is part of our rote.  Unfortunately, none of these reasons are good reasons.

Today’s passage from Isaiah 24:4-12 tells us of the devastation that the Lord had planned for the Earth after God’s people had disobeyed laws and broken the everlasting covenant (verse 5). Thankfully, today we do not have to suffer the same fate as the disobedient. As prophesized in Isaiah 53:4 and onwards, Jesus took on our suffering, was pierced for our transgressions, healed us, and brought us peace.   

One of the things that Jesus instructed believers to do as a sign of their belief in Him, and to gain the peace that He offers, was to participate in the Lord’s Supper.  However, it was not meant for us to participate meaninglessly as we read in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29:

“27 So then whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves”

As we are reminded in Foundation and Vision (Sunday School lessons on the Mar Thoma Church) on page 181, “Mar Thoma church believes in the spiritual presence during the Holy Qurbana and the change taking place in the recipient. Christ gives himself in an inexplicable way.  It produces results when one receives it in faith.”  So if we are to be of the very few that are left that Isaiah prophesized we must participate in Holy Qurbana with open heart and mind and most importantly we must participate in faith.

We cannot repeat the words of confession (also a dominical sacrament and paired with communion) as mindless repetition.  With genuine repentance and contrition, we should praise the Lord for his gift of grace and truly confess our sins.  When we kneel to take communion, we must focus on Him and Him alone and accept His body and blood and ask for Him to make a change in us.  Qurbana, which means offering, is an offering from God, not only an offering of grace and mercy but an offering to change our hearts and minds to become a follower of Christ and to have Him shine through us more and more.  When we take communion, are we being transformed by God’s love, grace or mercy?  Or does each communion we take become less and less meaningful?

Try to remember back to your First Communion.  Were you excited? Did you feel it was a solemn and holy occasion? When you repeated the oath, did you do so with a genuine passion for the Lord?  Every time we take Qurbana, we should have the same feelings we had when we took our First Communion.  We should have reverence and faith and be genuinely humbled and honored that Christ is offering us the chance to be one of His.  Let us approach each communion we partake in as a holy and transforming experience.

Prayer: Lord, we pray that you enable us to take Your offering with genuine hearts that are fully aware of our flaws, fragility and unworthiness to participate. However, because of Your grace and mercy, You have called us to Your table.  Fill us with a passion to view Communion in a holy, faithful and interactive way.  Enable us each time we participate in Holy Communion to be transformed by Your Holy Spirit. Amen!

Thought for the day: Taking communion without faith and prayer is meaningless